I just returned from a short visit to my native island of Puerto Rico. I was accompanying my husband who was there conducting a number of meetings and I was going to help by being his interpreter (of course, that wasn’t the only reason I tagged along) My parents sold my sisters and my, childhood home three years ago and moved to Washington D.C. with my oldest sister. Recently, they went back to the island for a summer visit and miss it so badly, they decided to buy a house and move back. They did this in a matter of 2 months!
Their little house is darling and comfortable for the two of them. It is located in the Northeast part of the island (about 45 minutes from the capital-San Juan) in a small town called Vega Baja. It is mostly city and only 10 minutes from the nearest beach. The houses are very colorful with unique structures; not a single house is alike. I have so many memories of my childhood in that town.
The weather in Puerto Rico is hot all year round, especially in the Summer months. We visited in May, and the temperature did not go any lower than 85 degrees (it also rained a lot). We took many showers in order to cool down because sometimes the heat Can be unbearable, but once you hit the beach, you pretty much forget all about the heat. The water is a beautiful turquoise color and it is so clear, you can see the bottom. There is a nice breeze that wraps you up and makes you feel like you’re definitely on vacation. My husband and I took a lot of pictures of various beaches around the island and I just fell in love with the land all over again. It’s just beautiful!
Obviously hitting the beach is a must do in a tropical island, but hitting the Kioskos (fruit/veggetables and food stands on the side of the road) is second! I’ve never seen such a variety of bananas in any other place yet. The mangos and the avocados are something out of this world! They are plump, fresh and 3 times the size of what you find at your local market in the US. The fruit and vegetables you find in these kiosks are all organically grown. You can also find many kiosks selling oysters around the beaches.
We enjoyed mofongo (a mix of mashed up green plantains with garlic and other spices which can be eaten by itself or stuffed with your choice of meat, poultry or seafood), tostones (fried green plantains), alcapurrias (fried mix of ground vegetables -mainly plantains-stuffed with crab meat or beef), mangos and a unique variety of bananas along with other island favorites…Sadly, just about everything you eat in the island is fried, which is not necessarily good for the arteries, but when you are on vacation, you are not too concern about eating yogurt and soy all the time, right?
Now, if you are ever in the island and feel the sudden urge for a treat from a local bakery, Pretty much all the bakeries are good, but I want to recommend Ricomini in the town of Mayagüez. I believe there are only a handful of these bakeries in the island, but if you are near one, you have to make a stop and get some quesitos or their specialty; a variety of jelly rolls. Who can refuse a Guava and cheese stuffed jelly roll? Or the variety of flans and puddings that in all honesty should be illegal!?! Puertoricans like flaky pastries stuffed with cheese and fruit jellies. Chocolate pastries are not as popular in the island, but you will find plenty of coconut and nutty treats.
When go back home for a visit, one of my favorite things to wake up to in the morning, is the smell of freshly brewed cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and freshly baked bread from the nearby bakery. My precious dad goes to the local bakery every morning for pan fresco (fresh bread). My mouth waters just thinking about that hot delicious bread! I haven’t found a single bakery near where I live where they bake fresh bread every morning, so, I thank God for bread making machines!
Our trip to the island was very short. Before I knew it, I was staring at the turquoise waters one last time before departing. I took deep breath and smelled the salt in the air, and I felt a knot on my throat. I know it will be a while before I visit again, but this little island has a special place in my heart. Every time I visit, I am overwhelmed with childhood memories and familiar melodies. I can’t hardly wait for my next visit!